CrossFit Games

You Can’t Train Experience: AB CrossFit Mayhem Proves They are More Than Just a Wildcard Team

July 3, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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Last year, AB CrossFit received a call that would change the trajectory of the next 365 days for them. After a near miss at a qualifying spot at the MidAtlantic CrossFit Championships earlier that May, AB CrossFit’s team thought they were done for the season.

One big thing: But despite not standing in the top five at the end of that weekend, Ivan Verdun, Mario Santaella, Laura Sanchez, and Maria Camila Quintero of AB CrossFit would go on to take 23rd overall out of 36 teams that summer in Madison, WI.

Remind me: After two teams were disqualified due to positive drug tests at the MACC, AB CrossFit ultimately ended up placing fourth overall.

  • This reshuffling of the results meant that with just one month to go until teams took the floor in Madison, AB CrossFit learned they had in fact earned their ticket.  
  • While their trip to the Games was challenging, as they had little time to prepare, it lit a fire in them and made them realize they knew they had what it took to make a name for themselves in the Team division in 2023.

The first year: Two years ago, AB CrossFit Mayhem came together with a goal. To make it to the CrossFit Games. While they achieved that goal in their first year, it was not without struggle.

  • “I think the challenge [for our team] was the first year,” said teammate Laura Sanchez.
  • We had a very rough year,” she continued, referencing their last minute ticket to the Games and the struggle it took to prepare for the Games in such a short period of time.
  • “We were [still] meeting each other. We all have different personalities,” Sanchez elaborated.
  • “So we learned from that year. It was very challenging dealing with all our personalities,” she concluded.

In 2023, they decided they would make a second run for it. Having earned their spot in 2022, they knew that they could set the bar higher and start to make a name for themselves. After the conclusion of Quarterfinals though, AB CrossFit Mayhem sat in 14th overall in the Northeast. Far outside the radars of anyone glancing quickly at the leaderboard.

  • However, a closer inspection revealed that they might just be the wildcard everyone was waiting for.
  • While they finished the first two workouts in 39th and 32nd overall, they finished the final three inside the top ten, including an event win in Quarterfinals Test 4.
  • They were also still ranked 27th overall worldwide.

While the team headed into North America East Semifinals with the same goal as last year, to make the Games, after the first day, their perspective began to shift.

  • AB CrossFit Mayhem would step onto the floor and take the first day by storm, taking a fourth place finish in Test one and emerging victorious after Test two, beating the number one seeded team in the world, CrossFit East Nashville PRVN.
  • And the first day was no fluke. Throughout the weekend, AB CrossFit Mayhem would remain atop the leaderboard finishing third overall after winning the final workout by over 15 seconds.

Standing on the podium at the end of the weekend changed the perspective for the team.

  • To be honest, last year the goal for us was to be there because it was our first year,” said Mario Santaella.
  • “This year, we came with the same goal, to be at the Games,” he continued. But after I saw our result at the Semifinals, our gaol [now] is to podium at The Games,” 
  • “Why not, we want to go and win. We just want as much as we can get,” Santaella concluded.

And after the weekend they had, a top finish at the 2023 CrossFit Games is not out of the realm of possibilities for AB CrossFit Mayhem. Not only has the team made drastic improvements from last year and have more time to prepare headed into the actual Games after Semifinals, but another year competing together has also allowed their bond to strengthen more than they could ever imagine.

  • The team trains nearly every session together, even if they are performing individual workouts.
  • They believe that training together as much as possible is essential for growing together as a team and continuing to push each other.
  • “It’s like a relationship,” said Sanchez
  • “I spend more time with them than with my husband,” Santaella added laughing.
  • “I feel this season has been amazing. We’re having fun, we understood the assignment,” Sanchez continued.

Making it work: Training together is not easy. Laura Sanchez, Mario Santaella, and Ivan Verdun are all full-time coaches while Maria Camilla Quintero is a full-time graphic designer.

  • Like many athletes in the sport of fitness, they work hard to balance full time training with full-time jobs.
  • But despite their busy schedules, they make training together a top priority.
  • “We try to do all our team sessions together, that is our priority,” said Sanchez.
  • “It’s rare that we do things individually,” he continued.

Beyond their commitment to training together, the team also believes that another year of experience has contributed significantly to their improvements.

  • “There is something that we learned last year and it was that you don’t train experience, you live it,” said Sanchez.
  • The team also attributes their improvements to their hard work.
  • We don’t believe in luck. We believe the harder we work, the luckier we get,” Sanchez added.

The big picture: Hard work and experience have already earned AB CrossFit Mayhem a spot on the North America East Semifinals podium and the team hopes it’s also enough to earn them a spot on the podium in Madison. In just over a month, the floor will once again open in Madison and the team will be able to put it all to the test and prove once again that they are no longer to be written off as the wildcard team.

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